There are many ways to buy Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. It’s becoming easier to buy cryptocurrencies than ever before. Nowadays you can buy more conveniently using your bank account or using other traditional methods. Here are some of the best websites and methods to buy and sell online, as well as a few alternative ways that you might prefer for more privacy and freedom and without onerous identification requirements:
1 . Traditional Digital Payment Applications Like Paypal
Recently some of the most popular digital payment systems have started to allow their users to buy Bitcoin. You probably already have a Paypal account. Paypal has over 300 million users worldwide and allowed their users to purchase Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum. Other popular applications in the US include Square Cash that allows their users to buy Bitcoin. The popular Robinhood app has a few more coins to buy including Ethereum Classic (ETC), Dogecoin (DOGE) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) in addition to BTC, LTC, ETH. However there have always been problems with users having Paypal accounts frozen in the past so these kinds of issues could be a problem if you don’t have full control over your cryptocurrencies. Robinhood also restricted trading in Gamestop likely in favor of hedge fund institutions at the expense of its users.
2 . Cryptocurrency Exchanges
The most common way for people to buy cryptocurrencies is from the most popular and largest Bitcoin exchanges in the industry. The most popular exchanges in the US are Coinbase, Kraken, BinanceUS or Gemini in the US. Coinbase and BinanceUS allow users to make bank transfers using ACH or wire transfers while other platforms such as Kraken and Gemini limit users to using wire transfers. Outside of the US, Binance is the most popular exchange in Europe and Asia. Those in Europe might also use Bitstamp, Bitfinex or a popular exchange that is located near them in their country like CEX.io in the UK or Coinfloor in Canada. Many users buy Bitcoin and crypto at their local exchanges and then move Bitcoin to other popular exchanges like Binance for better pricing and selection of coins. There are other exchanges like Gate.io or Kucoin that are second-tier exchanges that have a greater variety of cryptocurrencies and tokens that bigger exchanges don’t have available. However users always have to be careful with centralized cryptocurrency exchanges that hold their crypto for them. Centralized exchanges could lose or even take your crypto. Also exchanges can close your account at any time. Coinbase has shut down accounts for a variety of sometimes unknown reasons based on suspicious activity.
3 . Using Credit/Debit Cards
Another option is to use your credit or debit card to buy cryptocurrencies. Debit cards are accepted at Coinbase and other exchanges, but it is to buy crypto in the US and may be an expensive option. Depending on your credit card issuer, your purchases may be treated as a cash advance with a typical charge of 3-5% up front and high interest rates that accrue immediately. You’ll likely have lower credit limits on cash advances, won’t earn any cash-back rewards and you might also incur foreign exchange fees. For example, Coinmama allows credit cards, but charges 5% on top of a 5.9% transaction fee for a total of 11%. Two other places where you can use credit cards are crypto.com and blockchain.com. Although credit card transactions should be quick, some of these websites may not give you your crypto immediately.
4 . Alt Methods With Greater Privacy and Freedom
Almost all exchanges require identification when signing up to purchase crypto using bank transfers. Exchanges do allow you to deposit limited amounts of Bitcoin and crypto without identification for trading between crypto, but you would somehow have to get crypto somewhere in the first place. The identification requirements are based on regulations called KYC that stands for Know-Your-Customer and AML that stands for Anti-Money-Laundering. Exchanges that comply with KYC/AML regulation usually require a Driver’s license or passport with an address. However, because tax authorities and governments have more control over these traditional exchanges and institutions, exchanges may be persuaded to unfairly freeze or limit user accounts for unjustified reasons in the future or allow the IRS to invade people’s financial privacy. KYC/AML policies can also lead to unnecessary compliance burdens and may even be unconstitutional. Hence, here are some ways to buy crypto that protect people’s freedom and privacy from government intervention:
5 . In Person (P2P)
An alternative way to buy Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is from other people who already own them. In the past people would meet in person to buy and sell Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies with cash locally at a coffee shop or in person using a website like LocalBitcoins. Nowadays more people connect with others online instead to arrange a purchase. Once the buyer and seller agree on a price, the seller can place the Bitcoin in an escrow and the buyer can deposit cash in the seller’s bank account. When the seller confirms the escrow is released and the buyer receives Bitcoin. Paxful is another popular p2p website that allows you to use 350+ different payment methods to buy and sell with others including using gift cards. Binance is also a popular p2p alternative in many countries. One problem with buying Bitcoin or crypto person-to-person is that the buyer and seller have to agree on a price. Because crypto prices change rapidly it could be time consuming and overwhelming to compare so many different offer and bid prices. Furthermore the buyer may feel some resentment towards the seller if Bitcoin prices move down and the seller could feel some resentment if Bitcoin prices move up during the sale process even though they agreed on a price beforehand. Furthermore, most websites require you to have to register your ID for KYC/AML compliance. Therefore the easiest way is to use an app like bitcash where you can buy and sell bitUSD 1:1 for cash using Paypal or Alipay, Wechat Pay in China and eventually the most popular digital payment methods in each country.
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5 . ATMs or Chain Stores
Sometimes coordinating with other people is hard so having a place to go to regularly to buy Bitcoin with cash might be a good option. There are over 18,000 bitcoin ATMs around the world that allow you to buy Bitcoin like you would buy soda at a vending machine. You can just add cash in these machines and the machine will send Bitcoin to your Bitcoin wallet instantly. Most ATMs offer Bitcoin, but a smaller number allow you to buy other crypto or sell your Bitcoin and withdraw cash. Another option is to buy from a cashier teller at certain chain stores like CVS or a liquor store using the LibertyX network of chain store and merchant partnerships that cover 20,000 locations in the US. LibertyX also operates 5,000 ATMS and also allows users to sell Bitcoin for cash as well. ATMs typically require a phone number and require an ID for buying amounts greater than $1000. LibertyX requires registration and ID through their platform. If you don’t want to provide your ID, you can use bitcash and buy crypto hassle free with very limited KYC/AML requirements.
6 . Over-the-Counter (OTC)
If you need to buy large amounts of Bitcoin at once you can go to an over-the-counter broker (OTC) who allows a more personalized and private service. High-net-worth individuals and institutions often use this method and meet their brokers in person or connect directly with global OTC firms. There are usually limits to what crypto you can buy and the minimum is usually $100k, but purchases are negotiated at a fixed price with no slippage in prices even for large orders. Some have suggested OTC volume is 2 to 3 times the total volume traded on exchanges. Here is a list of 14 reputable OTC brokers from around the world:
- 2Genesis Trading
- 3FBG Capital
- 4Jump Trading
- 9Kenetic Capital
- 10QCP Capital
- 11Cumberland Mining
- 12Element Trading
- 13Genesis Block
- 14Binance OTC
Cheapest Ways to Buy Cryptocurrencies
All the various methods we mentioned for purchasing Bitcoin, crypto and other digital currencies have various advantages and disadvantages and different fee structures.
The following are rough estimates for the typical costs associated with each method from the cheapest to the most expensive:
1.49% (2% for conversions) / Debit 3.99%
0.16% - 0.26%
Digital Payment Apps
1.5 - 2.3%
Peer to Peer
8% for buying / 5% for selling
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If you are looking for the cheapest P2P method, you can first buy bitUSD for free and then trade into crypto in minutes using bitcash.